Continuing in my study of brahmacarya, a yogic principle that focuses on moderation, I found a new perspective on this principle this evening.
Living in moderation requires courage.
This connection makes sense when you think about it in a state of intemperance. When I think about my own life, it is those areas of #immoderation that are some of the most shameful and unappealing aspects of myself. It is our lack of mindfulness, our unhealthy boundaries, our procrastination, even our addictions which invite the overwhelming sense of impending doom. Even in less extreme scenarios, the fear that accompanies immoderation is profoundly destructive to our own belief in our self-worth.
When we are out of balance, might it be because we believed we were not okay as we are? Might we be convinced that we are imperfect? In this belief, we carry real #pain.
The cause of our suffering though, is not actually our imperfect, but rather, our mistaken belief in the imperfection itself. We are acting under the erroneous assumption that we are imperfect, so we reach outside of ourselves to find balance or to create balance, to end our suffering. Many call this self-medicating. Others don't even recognize this effort in themselves.
When this effort is unsuccessful then, we double up our efforts and demand even more. All this effort though, all our striving worsens the situation and deepens our conviction that we are somehow flawed. We get caught up in this cycle of chronic suffering and misguided attempts to relieve our pain, and spend days, weeks, or years out of balance and in conflict with ourselves.
These past few years, as I have really dug into my own journey towards optimal health - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and in my relationships - and I have come to understand this balance or lack of balance in my life, and in that of my client's. Sometimes this manifests as #alcoholism. Sometimes we see this in living a very sedentary lifestyle. Sometimes #rage. Other times insomnia or depression. We lack balance.
I once heard a functional medicine practitioner share that we all have addictions of some sort or another. In fact, I found such truth in his words that I began asking all my wellness clients what they were addicted to, not if they had addiction. Out of balance, we all have a crutch. We all have something that we lean into, so the real difference between us is the consequences of our chosen addiction. If we choose alcoholism or narcotics, we may find ourselves struggling to maintain employment or relationships. If we choose food or rage, we may find ourselves suffering from chronic pain or obesity. Others may opt for addictions such as running, #yoga, or dancing. This may manifest as an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, but we may simply see someone who is fit and seemingly healthy. The consequences of our coping methods, our addictions, may make all the difference. All have potential for intemperance.
We have to stop doing whatever it is we are doing that creates imbalance. Maybe for some of us, we first have to become mindful enough to even recognize our imbalance. Check in with ourselves; show up for ourselves. When you are stuck in a hole, stop digging. Too often we tell ourselves that after this next big accomplishment, we will be set. All will be well, then we turn the next corner and repeat the same sentiment.
Summoning the courage to step away from the downward spiral is courageous. There is great power in nondoing. As we practice moderation, we begin to notice again - notice beyond the walls we've built. We hear noises outside those that are screaming demands. We begin to see people again, their eyes, their smiles, and feel their encouraging touch. We gain patience and greater compassion.
The anxiety that comes with intemperance begins to evaporate. We start to see how pervasive this bad habit, these lack of healthy boundaries, our addictions have become in our lives. As we begin to walk away from these #habits, our addictions, whatever they may be, we leave our fear behind as well. We are no longer writing ourselves a story or false narrative simply so we can cope. We stop making excuses for our reality. When we learn to step up and protect ourselves, demand our own needs be met, and prioritize balance in our lives, we fear no more.
Balance allows us to enjoy our own company, to embrace life solo, to truly be free. Brachmacarya.